Thursday, August 21, 2008

Everything normal, nothing to see

So, the Chinese are misrepresenting the ages of some of the members of their gymnastic team, and harassing the press. But, that is the nature of repressive totalitarian governments. Why would anyone be surprised?

The IOC is accepting this behavior, in order to get along, to avoid trouble. That is the nature of neutered bureaucracies.

Last year, He KeXing (sp?) was 14 years old - this, according to the government news agencies and their athletic organization. This year, she is (or will be) 16 - because they say so. They issued a new passport to make it official. As far as the Chinese are concerned, that is the end of the matter. The truth - reality - is what the Chinese Communist Party says it is. Orwell was not employing metaphor.

There is a phrase which I despise: "Perception is Reality"

In one sense, it is useful, in that it alerts us to the fact that everyone - everyone - behaves according to their belief of what constitutes reality; That, however, is filtered through perception. Since everyone's perception is slightly different, their responses will always be skewed a bit, in relation to what everyone else expects - a sort of psychological relativity effect.

However, this does NOT alter the fact that one's perception, regardless of their behavior, is skewed from reality. It does NOT reflect reality. Perception is NOT reality.

Proof: Setting aside the possibility of singular solipsism - that is, the Universe exists only in the imagination of a single entity, we are left with two useful possibilities. If the universe exists only as perception (as some have suggested), then reality must follow perception. However, any psychologist can testify that given 10 people, one can observe 10 different perspectives - that is, 10 different realities. Thus, the universe cannot be created from perception, as there are many incompatible perceptions in play (again, setting aside solipsism). If the universe exists apart from any particular perception, and given that there are at least two perceptions at variance, then at least one of those, perhaps both, must by necessity, be at variance with reality.

Okay, enough tortured logic.

The beauty of the Chinese Communist position (if you care to describe it as such), is that they do not bother with rationalizing why their position correctly reflects or models reality; they simply state, with all authority, that reality reflects their position - whatever it may be, today. They postulate that reality is not slave to perception; rather, it is slave to their policy, and can and does change, as does their policies.

The IOC is willing to go along; they do not care which of the many interpretations of reality are more correct, which are less correct, and which are flat-out contradictions. They, like C.S. Lewis' protagonist, are quite able, and happy, to entertain any number of mutually exclusive realities. Their bigger point is to get along.

That leaves those of us who believe in a surpreme and absolute reality, grumbling. But then, how different are we, in terms of our day-to-day activities? Not much different, other than in terms of scale.